Bursting with Confidence
By Amanda Lawrence Auverigne
Copyright © 2013 by Amanda Lawrence Auverigne
All rights reserved. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.
Haley climbed up the stone staircase of the large stone mansion.
The house was the color of slate. The dwelling possessed three floors. Rows of shimmering windows decorated the front portion of the mansion.
Haley reached the top of the staircase and she moved to the door of the house.
The wooden door was large. The partition was the color of blood. A large brass doorknocker dangled from the center of the massive portal.
The metal doorknocker possessed the shape of a human’s head.
The bronze figure’s elaborately carved features were twisted into a painful grimace. The metal carving’s eyes were partially closed. Two tiny gleaming yellow stones could be seen beneath the metal face’s partially opened eyelids.
Tiny intricately carved flames jutted from the left and right portion of the bronze figure’s head. A large weighted silver ring hung from the form’s chin. The metal circlet rested atop the smooth wood of the blood-colored door.
Haley stared at the tortured face of the bronze doorknocker for a few moments. She lowered her sight from the shimmering yellow stones that protruded from its eye sockets. She gazed at the metal ring beneath the carved form.
“Okay,” Haley whispered.
Haley raised her right hand and she grabbed at the silver ring with a sigh.
The metal was cold and heavy in her grasp.
Haley raised the weighted object from its perch atop the door. She held the ring a few inches atop the partition before she suddenly turned away from the door. She looked at the left side of the partition.
A small white circular doorbell jutted from the brick wall a few inches away from the door’s massive wooden frame.
“Good,” Haley said.
Haley turned to the doorknocker. She lowered the silver ring in her grasp. She slowly placed the weighted circlet gently atop the red door before removing her hand from the silver circlet. She turned from the door, took a step to the doorbell, raised her left hand and pressed the tip of her index finger against the white object.
A low buzzing noise poured from the doorbell.
Haley dropped her hand from the doorbell with a low cry.
After a few seconds, the low trill of heavy chimes echoed from the interior of the red door.
The music continued and increased in intensity.
Haley looked at the door and she tilted her head while she listened to the tune.
After a few seconds, Haley recognized the music.
“A requiem?” Haley whispered in awe.
The music stopped.
The sound of loud footsteps echoed from the interior of the house.
The low tread of footfalls suddenly ceased. The sound of loud clicking noises poured from the large red door just before the massive partition was suddenly pulled ajar.
Haley blinked and she gazed at the space in front of her.
Her best friend, Abigail, stood in the entrance.
“Haley you’re here!” Abigail cried.
Abigail rushed forward. She pulled Haley into a tight hug.
Haley hugged Abigail. “Yeah I walked here.”
Abigail pushed Haley away from her. “Are you serious? What happened to your whip?”
“Blown tire,” Haley responded with a dramatic roll of her eyes.
“What happened?” Abigail asked.
“Its just my stupid little brother Spencer was drag racing in the mall parking lot after seeing that one stupid racing movie with his loser friends and he rolled over a couple of bottles or something. At least that’s his story.”
“Didn’t he just get his license last week?”
“Yup, a total fail for him. And for me too since I don’t have a working car.”
“That sucks. Spencer’s hooking you up with some new tires right?”
“Dad said he’ll get me some new treads but Spencer’s going to have to pay him back. Well he will pay him because the only thing he’ll be doing for the next two months is working at the Electronics Mart and going to school. He’s totally grounded. Dad took his Xbox, his comp, iPad and cell last night and you should have seen how he cried. I felt so bad for him. Not really.”
“Funny! Well what are you going to do until you get your car fixed?”
“I guess I’ll just have to walk everywhere. Well to school at least. And walking here was a breeze anyway. It’s just ten blocks.”
“Ten blocks is a lot.”
“You look tired.”
“Just kidding. You look great. Come on in.”
Abigail took a step backwards. She entered the interior of the house.
Haley entered the house. She stepped into a large hall. She pulled off her jacket and looked at her surroundings.
The stone corridor was long and spacious.
Four large doorways lay embedded in the walls on both sides of the hall. Each portal lead to large exquisitely furnished rooms.
Ten shining suits of armor stood upright against the stone walls of the wide passage.
Eight marble busts resting atop tall marble pedestals were pressed against the stone walls of the corridor.
Each pedestal possessed a gleaming brass tag along the front portion of the stone table. Intricate writing decorated the gleaming metal labels.
Several gleaming silver shields decorated the top portion of the corridor’s stone walls. Each metal shield possessed a colorfully intricate coat of arms within the center.
Hundreds of gold tipped spears, wooden crossbows, silver axes, maces, daggers and swords adorned the walls of the massive corridor.
“This place is huge,” Haley said. She folded her jacket atop her arm. She gazed at a bust of a scowling man near her.
“Yeah,” Abigail said closing the door softly. “There are like twenty rooms in the house I think.”
Abigail raised her hand and slapped at several brass locks and deadbolts that decorated the door.
Haley turned to Abigail. “Are you serious?”
“Yeah,” Abigail said.
Abigail moved away from the door. She stopped in front of the wall on the right side of the massive red portal.
A small square-shaped security panel jutted from the wall.
“Yup twenty not counting the basement and the carriage house out back behind the gazebo thing,” Abigail replied absently.
Abigail raised her hand. She punched a series of numbers into the security panel’s keypad.
“Twenty rooms and a carriage house?” Haley asked in disbelief.
“Yeah but the carriage house is really a guest house. Well it was until Mr. Larsen shut it up last year and started using it for storage or whatever,” Abigail said. She lowered her hand from the panel.
The sound of a loud beep poured from the security panel just before a metallic feminine voice echoed from the white object.
“Okay,” Haley said with a laugh.
Abigail turned to Haley. “What?”
“That must be some tricked out security system I mean because ours doesn’t talk.”
“Ours either. The Larsens had this set up special. They have loads of old stuff here with gold and stuff.”
Haley looked around the hall. “Twenty rooms huh? You sure it’s not forty?”
“Naw its just twenty. I think. And plus the Larsens only use the first and second floor and half of the third I think because the third floor is like the maid’s house or whatever for you know like if they had a maid,” Abigail continued.
“How old is this place?” Haley asked.
“I think this house was built like two hundred years ago or something. Anyway, the third floor is supposed to be like the maid’s house or something. I don’t remember.”
“Enough of this history stuff. Come on. The Larsens went to the snore opera like an hour ago and Peter is really really excited to meet you. He saw your pic on my phone when you called earlier.”
“You told Peter I was coming?”
“Well, I told him that I hoped you were coming. He likes meeting new people. His parents hardly ever let him have any friends over.”
The sound of high pitched laughter echoed in the corridor.
Haley and Abigail turned in the direction of the noise.
The two young women gazed at an opened door located at the far end of the right side of the hall.
The laughter erupted again and the sound was followed by a loud crunching noise.
“I guess Peter just figured out who did the murder,” Abigail said.
Haley turned to Abigail and said, “Huh?”
Abigail looked at Haley.
“That was Peter laughing like a mini-maniac. He’s in the study watching his shows and having his snacks which will prolly be all over the floor and curtains by the time I get back in there. I tell you television is like the only thing that can keep this one quiet for more than a half hour. He doesn’t like playing video games or watching stuff on YouTube. He thinks that Fred dude is a nerd and he like totally fell asleep when I showed him that one vid with the talking fruities. Isn’t that weird?”
“Well, I guess every kid is different.”
“See? It’s when you say things like that that I know you’ll be a great teacher someday.”
“Well, the jury’s still out on that one.”
Abigail grabbed Haley’s right arm. She linked her left arm within her best friend’s limb with a giggle.
“Come on, Haley. Let’s go in the study and meet the little monster,” Abigail whispered.
“Monster?” Haley asked. “Come on Abbie. He’s a kid.”
“Are you kidding me? This kid is a little terror. But today he’s been pretty good. But that’s just because all of his shows are on. But he really wants to meet you. So come on and meet him.”
Abigail and Haley walked across the spacious hall.
Haley stared up at the walls of the long corridor during her trek forward. She passed her gaze across the assortment of weapons with a high pitched whistle.
“You liking the killer bling?” Abigail asked with a laugh.
“Yeah,” Haley replied. “Those are a lot of shields. And swords and crossbows.”
“Yeah the Larsens have loads of this stuff all over the house. They have a lot of weird books in the library. It’s like their own personal collection.”
“Most of this stuff looks really old. And deadly. Like it should be in a museum or something.”
“Yeah a murder museum.”
Haley laughed. “The exhibit could be called Murder Throughout the Ages.”
Abigail giggled. “Good one!”
“But seriously. Where did all of this stuff come from?”
“Well, the Larsens are like collectors. Mr. Larsen is a history professor at the university and he like travels all over the world collecting stuff. His wife is a museum curator and an antique freak. She’s always going to estate sales and auctions and stuff like that but most of the stuff here is hers.”
“Yeah, most of it belonged to her family. Apparently one of her ancestors came from ancient stock. They had titles or whatever. And I think after they moved here Mrs. Larsen brought most of this stuff from a two thousand year old castle her family had in Scotland.”
“Yeah, so it’s like I’m working in a museum or something. Hey, maybe I can like add that on my college applications. I was the assistant assistant assistant in a private museum. No that sounds lame.”
“This stuff is amazing. Look at those swords. Hey, if there’s a zombie invasion at least I’ll know which house to come to for weapons.”
“Hee. Hee. That’s funny. But seriously we’ll have to stop off for guns too.”
“Yeah but an axe can help. Or three.”
“Um, are you sure the Larsens are okay with you having a visitor, while you babysit Peter? I mean, some parents get real panicky when they hear about their babysitter inviting their friends over while they’re on duty.”
“It’s fine. The Larsens are cool and even they know that their son can be a handful. It’s no wonder they haven’t had another kid. Now come on and meet him. Oh, and watch your step.”
Abigail pulled her arm from Haley’s grasp and she walked forward with a light whistle.
Haley continued her trek forward. She walked a few paces behind Abigail and she gazed at the opened doorways of the rooms near her during her journey forward.
The rooms were large and dimly lit.
Each room was filled with an assortment of aged furnishings, old paintings, ancient tapestries, faded silk screens and small glass cases.
A few of the glass containers were filled with neatly displayed books and figurines.
Abigail stopped walking. She turned around and looked behind her.
Haley was walking slowly forward across the hall a few paces away from her. She was gazing at a suit of armor beside her.
“Haley,” Abigail said with irritation.
Haley turned from the armor. She stopped walking in front of a marble bust.
The marble figure possessed the face of a young woman.
“Huh?” Haley asked absently while staring at the carved figure’s eyes.
“Stop daydreaming and let’s go,” Abigail said.
“Hey how old is this thing?” Haley asked. She lowered her sight from the marble figure’s face and she gazed at the bronze tag that decorated the front of the stone figure’s pedestal.
Small etched letters and intricate symbols decorated the shiny metal plate.
“What language is this?” Haley asked pointing at the brass tag. “I mean. Is it a cataloguing code for their collection so that the Larsens will be the only ones who know what’s in it? Or is it like a cipher?”
“I dunno,” Abigail responded. She moved across the hall and stopped beside Haley.
“Maybe,” Haley suggested. “This is something the Larsens use for the insurance. Or maybe it’s just like a dead language or something. I think it’s a code though but I’ve never seen this writing before.”
“Scholar Haley,” Abigail said in a sing song voice.
Haley looked at Abigail. “I hate it when you call me that.”
“Well you are the smartest girl in the junior class.”
“No, Leslie Winters is.”
“No you are.”
“No, she has the highest average.”
Haley turned from Abigail. She glanced at the marble bust in front of her for a few moments before she turned away from the sculpture and looked around the hall.
“I wonder if all of the tags in here have this weird code on it. And I wonder what it means,” Haley said.
“Haley!” Abigail nearly shouted.
Haley looked at Abigail. “Huh?”
“News flash. We’re not in class. Does it really matter what the creepy tags on these creepy busts say?”
“No I’m just curious. You know I’m a sucker for a good mystery.”
Abigail laughed and she pointed at Haley.
Haley grabbed Abigail’s hand and she held her fingers tightly.
“Don’t say it Abbie!”
“Say what Haley?”
“Don’t call me a sucker!”
“Okay. You’re a lollipop. A scholarly lolly! Ha!”
Haley released Abigail’s hand with an impatient huff. She turned to the bust of the young woman.
“I dunno,” Haley said staring at the stone object. “I’m just curious about this thing. I’ve never seen a marble bust like this before. It’s so detailed.”
Abigail looked at the bust and said, “Its probably one of the ones Mr. Larsen brought back from one of his excavations in Rome last year.”
“Oh,” Haley said.
“Yeah he’s always digging up old ruins or whatever you scholars would call it. I think he even like found a mummy once. No wait, that was Mrs. Larsen when she went to Egypt that one t time. It’s in the basement with the iron maiden and the rack.”
Haley turned to Abigail with wide eyes and a gasp.
Abigail held her cell out in front of her and she laughed shrilly while pressing at the device.
“Gotcha!” Abigail announced. She looked at her phone. “This is the best one yet. You look really scared in this one.”
Abigail raised her cell and she thrust the device in Haley’s direction.
Haley stared at the cell and she saw the wide-eyed image of herself. She looked up at Abigail with a twisted grimace.
“Abbie, delete that pic please.”
“Fo sho,” Abigail said pulling her phone towards her and tapping at it. “After I text it to you.”
Haley’s cell phone beeped.
“Awesome!” Abigail said sliding her phone inside her pocket. “So let’s go already!”
Abigail grabbed Haley’s hand. She turned around and pulled her friend behind her while walking forward.
“I can’t believe you just did that,” Haley said. “I’m not even going to read your text.”
Hee! Hee! You should read it cause I put something funny on it!” Abigail laughed.
“Ha. Ha,” Haley said glumly.
Haley stumbled clumsily behind Abigail with a sigh.
A faint flash of green danced in the corner of Haley’s field of vision.
Haley turned in the direction of the sudden flash and she looked at the wall near her while continuing her walk forward.
A large silver dagger hung from the wall.
The handle of the knife was elaborately carved. Thousands of glittering green stones lay embedded in the handle. The blade of the dagger was curved and a row of green gems lay atop the gleaming sharp.
“Man. Those look like real emeralds,” Haley whispered.
Abigail stopped walking. She turned around and moved to Haley. She stopped beside her friend and looked at the wall.
“You see this thing?” Haley asked pointing at the shimmering blade.
“Yup,” Abigail responded with a smack of her lips. “That’s a nice one. There’s one with rubies in the kitchen. But its longer and the blade kinda looks like a shimmying snake.”
“Are those real emeralds?” Haley asked in a whisper.
“Prolly!” Abigail said. “Now come on. Let’s go. After we meet Peter I want to show you the rest of the house.”
Abigail grabbed Haley’s arm and she pulled her friend behind her as she turned around and walked forward.
Haley walked forward clumsily with her eyes were still fixed on the dagger.
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Haley commented.
“Yeah there’s loads of stuff like that here. Watch your step!” Abigail said.
Abigail stopped in front of a door near the far end of the hall. She released Haley’s arm before she ran forward.
Abigail released a loud cry before she rushed to the door and quickly disappeared from view.
Haley continued her trek forward with her sight still fixed on the dagger.
After a few seconds she shook her head and turned away from the gem-encrusted dagger with a sigh. She looked at the space in front of her and saw an opened doorway.
Haley peered inside the doorway while continuing her trek forward. She saw a large dimly lit room just before the floor suddenly disappeared beneath her feet.
“What the!” Haley cried.
Haley looked down but it was too late.
A stone staircase was directly in front of her and she was already falling across the edge of the flight.
Haley thrust out her arms but it was too late. She was falling and had decided to continue her clumsy descent.
After half hobbling and stumbling down the stone steps she finally managed to land on the floor atop her feet.
A pair of strong arms grabbed her shoulders.
Haley looked up and she saw Abigail standing in front of her.
Abigail gazed at Haley with wide eyes.
“Haley are you okay?” Abigail asked with concern.
“Yeah I think so,” Haley replied. She pulled her shoulders from Haley’s grasp and turned around. She looked at the small granite staircase behind her.
“Whose idea was it to put stairs there?” Haley asked.
“Well you know this house is old and most of the rooms here have like steps in them,” Abigail replied with a high pitched squeak.
“Those things nearly killed me,” Haley commented.
The sound of a loud muffled giggle echoed behind her.
Haley turned around and she looked at Abigail.
Abigail was standing a few paces away from Haley. She was looking at her friend and holding her belly while laughing gaily.
Haley pressed her lips together. Her cheeks flushed crimson.
Abigail stopped laughing. She lowered her hand from her belly and took a deep breath.
“I’m sorry Haley but that was soooo funny!” Haley laughed. “You…you are just so darned graceful. I mean. You should have seen how you sailed down those stairs it was like…it was like you were dancing!”
“Abbie it’s not funny,” Haley said softly.
“It is well it was,” Abigail said quickly. She shook her head with a light chuckle. “After watching that I guess I should have stuck it out in ballet class instead of quitting when I did huh?”
Haley moved closer to Abigail.”Haley that’s not funny! I could have broken my neck on those stairs!”
Abigail moved closer to Haley and she pulled her friend into a hug. “Aw, you’re alright.”
Haley hugged Abigail with a petulant sigh.
“Yeah most of my major organs are undamaged. It’s just my ego that took a hit. Oh and my blood pressure just shot way up too.”
“Some snacks will fix that!” Abigail laughed.
“More like a trip to the hospital,” Haley said wryly pushing Abigail away from her slightly.
“Haley you always come through with the jokes!” Abigail sniggered.
“Okay enough with all of the laughs. We’ve always established the fact that I could have majorly hurt myself tumbling down those stairs.”
Abigail cleared her throat with a coughing wheeze. “Yeah like totally.”
Haley moved closer to Abigail and she pinched her friend’s left cheek.
“Oooch!” Abigail giggled rubbing her assaulted cheek. “What was that for?”
“For not warning me about those stairs,” Haley replied.
Abigail lowered her left hand from her cheek. She rushed to Haley with a giggling squeal while raising her left hand. “Payback pinchy!”
Haley grabbed Abigail’s left hand. “Stop!”
Abigail raised her right hand and she pinched Haley’s right cheek. “Payback gotten!”
Abigail pulled her left hand from Haley’s grasp and she took a step away from her friend. “And I did warn you about the stairs like two times. But you were like all mesmerized by the bling in the hall. And plus I thought you were like right behind me.”
“I was but I was falling,” Haley said.
“Oh yeah,” Abigail giggled.
“Not funny Abbie.”
“Yeah you’re right totally not funny and I’m so glad I like didn’t pull out my cell and tape it.”
“Nothing. I didn’t say anything. Come on. Let’s meet Peter,”
Abigail moved forward and grabbed Haley’s arm.
“Okay,” Haley said.
Abigail turned around and she walked across the room.
Haley walked beside her.
The two young women walked away from the staircase and they entered a large room.
The suite was impressively large and the chamber was a deep shade of magenta. The room’s massive interior of was filled with an assortment of couches, chairs, stools and tables.
A massive stone fireplace the color of bleached bone lay embedded in the wall on the left side of the room.
Two large carved dragons decorated the left and right side of the huge hearth.
The stone creature’s faces were carved into menacing snarls.
A large painting of a dour faced man with white hair hung on the wall directly above the fireplace. The painted man was dressed in a dark suit.
A huge golden screen rested on the floor a few paces in front of the ash-filled fireplace. The metal barricade was decorated with the intricately carved figures fire breathing dragons, iron clad knights, galloping horses and long haired maidens.
Dozens of wooden crossbows, silver hatchets, wooden spears, rusty metal axes and metal poles arms hung from the walls of the room.
Several diamond-shaped mirrors decorated the walls.
A row of four ceiling length windows lay a few hundred yards across from the massive magenta room’s entrance. The partitions were decorated with red velvet curtains.
A little boy was resting lazily atop a magenta colored chair that was located a few feet away from the tall windows.
The boy was dressed in a pair of dark blue loose fitting pajamas.
A pair of large black slippers encased the boy’s feet.
The shoes were too big for the boy’s small feet and the dark footwear dangled from his limbs clumsily.
An intricate golden symbol decorated the top portion of the black slippers.
Large liters of soda, bottles of fruit juice, and boxes of cookies and shining foil bags of salty snacks rested on the stone floor near the little boy’s chair.
Three large remote controls lay stacked in a neat pile atop the magenta chair’s left armrest.
An iPad rested atop the chair’s right armrest.
The little boy cradled a large bag of potato crisps atop his belly. He shoved handfuls of the snacks inside his mouth while gazing at the large screen television that hung from a stone wall across from him.
Large crumbs fell from his crisp-filled fingers and landed atop his pajamas.
Several food particles landed on the floor around him.
The little boy giggled wildly while continuing to gaze at the TV.
The TV was large and hung suspended from the wall a few feet away from the chair.
Three large coats of arms hung from the wall. The trio of metal objects surrounded the television in a graceful circle.
Four shining silver swords lay embedded in the wall directly above the television screen.
At the sound of Abigail and Haley’s approaching footsteps, the little boy looked up from the television. He turned to the doorway and stared at Abigail.
“Peter,” Abigail said cheerfully “Look who came to visit us.”
Haley and Abigail stopped walking near Peter.
Peter looked at Haley. He swallowed a mouthful of potato crisps with a loud gulp. He snatched the bag from his belly, threw the sack on the floor near him and sat up quickly.
The three remote controls and the IPod fell from the chair and the items landed on the floor with loud clattering noises.
Hundreds of crumbs fell from his pajamas and landed on the floor.
The little boy rubbed his head of black curls while he grinned at Haley.
“Oh your IPod,” Haley gasped.
“Huh?” Peter asked lowering his hand from his head while still looking at Haley.
“I think it might be broken,” Haley said.
“He doesn’t care,” Abigail said.
Haley looked up from the IPod and she turned to Abigail. “What?”
Abigail stared at the IPod with a surly expression across her features. She folded her arms across her chest before looking up at Peter. “Another one bites the dust. That’s the third one’s he’s totaled this month.”
Peter ignored the fallen items. He took a step towards Haley with a wide yet lopsided grin.
“Is this Haley?” Peter asked cheerfully.
“Oh I almost forget the introduction,” Abigail said.”Peter this is my best friend Haley. Haley, this is Peter.”
“Pleased to meet you Peter,” Haley said. “Is your IPod okay?”
“Wow you’re pretty,” Peter said.
“Uh thank you,” Haley said quietly.
“Can we kiss?” Peter asked.
“Um no. But how’s about a handshake?” Haley suggested.
Haley moved closer to Peter. She thrust out her hand with a cheerful smile.
Peter moved to Haley quickly.
“I guess that’ll do. For now,” Peter said.
Peter thrust out his hand. He grabbed Haley’s hand and shook it enthusiastically.
“Your hands are soft,” Peter stated.
Haley pulled her hand from Peter’s tight grasp quickly.
“Uh thanks,” Haley said.”So uh, what are you watching Peter?”
“Guess,” Peter said.
Haley turned away from Peter and she looked at the television.
“Imprisoned International,” Haley said tentatively. “Um, I used to watch this show.”
“My other favorite show just ended,” Peter said.
Haley turned away from the TV. She looked at Peter with a smile and said, “Oh what’s your other favorite show?”
“Murder Detective International. Do you watch that show?” Peter asked.
“Um sometimes,” Haley responded.
“Do you like it?” Peter inquired.
“Yeah it’s okay. I guess,” Haley replied.
“Haley, do you believe in magic?” Peter asked.
“Uh I don’t really know. I haven’t really seen any. And lots of stuff can be explained by science so,” Haley said.
“Is that why you like to watch Forensic Historian? Cause I watch that show too,” Peter said quickly.
“Uh how do you know that I watch that show?” Haley asked.
“I told him,” Abigail said with a shrug.
“Oh,” Haley said.
“I watch The Forensic Historian, The Historic Detectives and Surgery in the Ancient World too,” Peter said. “You like all of those shows?”
“Um I watch all of them but I don’t really watch them all the time,” Haley said.
“I like science shows. I watch Blast It and Build it and Blast that Building too like you.”
“Uh, did Abigail tell you I like those shows?”
“Naw, I read it in her texts to you.”
“What!” Abigail squealed.
“And I don’t think the shows you like are boring at all,” Peter continued. “I think they’re all cool like you.”
“Oh well I like some other shows too,” Haley said.
“And I don’t think that science can’t explain everything,” Peter said.”There’s loads of stuff experiments can’t measure or explain. Like love.”
“Um,” Haley said.
Peter moved closer to Haley.
“What do you think?” Peter asked.
“Oh brother,” Abigail said with a roll of her eyes.
“Love is a mystery I guess but uh,” Haley stammered.
“If you saw some magic would you believe it?” Peter asked.
“Um I guess. I don’t really know,” Haley replied with a shrug.
“There’s magic all around us you know,” Peter said.
“Peter that’s enough,” Abigail said. “Its late and time for you to go to bed. So, pick up your IPod and go to bed.”
“No Abbie,” Peter said. “I’m not going to bed. I’m not three anymore and you can’t make me. Besides, it’s too early and Dad’s getting me the new IPod 2 tomorrow so I don’t care about that one.”
“Ugh,” Abigail huffed.
“Haley,” Peter said. “Would you like to watch Imprisoned International with me? They’re doing a marathon.”
“Uh Peter. You don’t watch to watch cartoons or anything like that?” Haley asked.
Peter clapped his hands together with a grin. He took a few steps back with a cheerful grin in Haley’s direction.
“Be right back,” Peter stated.
Peter turned away from Haley. He clapped his hands while walking from the interior of the room with a cheerful whistle.
“Uh,” Haley said turning to Abigail and looking at her friend with an expression of disbelief.
“I told you that kid was weird,” Abigail said.
“How old is he?” Haley asked.
“Ten going on thirty,” Abigail replied. “You know, I think it’s all of those racy television shows and movies that they show on cable that’s making these kids go all reproductive wonky at an early age.”
Abigail moved to the magenta chair. She fell to her knees and snatched up the bags of crisps, cookie boxes, juice bottles and liters of soda that lay on the floor.
“Reproductive wonky?” Haley asked with a laugh.
“Yeah, I mean all of this talk about kissing and things. I mean. When we were ten we had to catch a boy, body slam him and hold him down if we wanted to kiss him,” Abigail said.
Abigail rose to her feet. She held the treats clumsily in her hands and moved to a small circular table of glass near her. She placed the items onto the table before snatching a small cookie from one of the dented boxes. She turned to Haley with a smile.
“But then again to him we’re the unattainable older woman,” Abigail said before shoving the cookie inside her mouth with a loud chomp.
“We are not. Why are we even talking about this?” Haley asked.
“Cause its funny,” Abigail said snatching another cookie from the box.
Haley turned away from Abigail. She glanced around the room and focused her sight on a nearby couch. She moved to the sofa and fell atop the soft object with a huff.
“Its not funny,” Haley sighed looking at the TV.
“You’re right. Let’s talk about something else,” Abigail said.
Abigail moved away from the table. She paused in front of the chaise and snatched up the fallen IPod and three remote controls. She held the remotes in her left hand and clutched the IPod in her right hand. She raised her thumb slightly and tapped at the machine’s screen.
The monitor flashed to life.
“I’m surprised the screen isn’t toast,” Abigail said.”Its still working.”
“That’s good,” Haley said.
Abigail walked to the snack-filled table and she placed the IPod onto the counter. She lowered two of the remote controls onto the snack-filled table before she walked away from the object. She moved across the room and stopped in front of the couch.
Abigail grinned at Haley before turning around, aiming the remote at the TV and falling onto the couch beside her friend with a musical hum.
The sound of loud rock music poured from the TV.
“Where are my snacks?” Haley asked.
“We’ll do the snack thing later. You have got to see the Larsen’s kitchen. They’ve got two fridges and one of them will like make you fat just by looking at the shelves in it. Cakes, pies, schnitzel you name it they’ve got it.”
“Sooooooo,” Abigail said. “Let’s talk about Dale Richmond.”
Haley closed her eyes with a petulant sigh. She rested the rear portion of her skull against the spine of the couch.
“Let’s not,” Haley said.
“Yes let’s,” Abigail said. She turned away from the TV and looked at Haley. “Did he ask you out yet? Because I know he likes you. He missed that mad dunk in gym class yesterday because he was looking at you.”
Haley opened her eyes. She looked at Abigail. “He was not looking at me.”
“He was too. He’s going to ask you out. He likes you! He’s always posting on your FB wall and commenting on your academic reviews on Goodreads. You like the same books he does and you like him too.”
“I don’t know.”
“You two would be great together. I bet he asks you to the Spring Fling Dance. You know I saw this vid on YouTube of him dancing last year in the parking lot. You know freestyle? And well he can really dance. And you can too so hey. You might as well go out.”
“I don’t want to go to the Spring Fling Dance. And we don’t know if Dale likes me. I mean, a lot of girls like him. I mean, have you seen some of the stuff they put on his FB wall. It’s like. Pornographic.”
“Not really. Well a few times but not too many but don’t worry about his wall. Dale likes you!”
“No. what happened in gym class was just him being clumsy.”
“Dale is the cap of the basketball team! He never misses baskets!”
“Everyone has an off game day.”
“Haley, boys like Dale don’t miss baskets looking at girls they don’t’ like! Hoops is like their life. Well, that and picking up chicks but you’re like totally gf material. So when he asks you out don’t run this time. Stay. Smile and talk to him.”
“What are you talking about?”
“He was sooooo going to ask you out today after Lit class but you like ran for the lockers as soon as the bell rang.”
“So? Lit is our last class.”
“So? You don’t’ usually run out like that. I think it’s because you saw him coming over to you. Carrying your favorite book. It was so romantic. Well it could’ve been if you didn’t go all Speed Racer on us.”
“Abbie, Dale was carrying a Kindle.”
“So? I’m sure he had your favorite book on it.”
“And then after you like knocked over a desk and shoved Amy Carter and Susie Phelps out of your way when you bolted for the door…”
“I didn’t knock over any desks!”
“Everyone was like what? And I was like I know why she did that. And Dale, well. Dale looked so hurt. See look…”
Abigail pulled her cell from her pocket. She moved closer to Haley and held the screen near her friend’s shocked face.
The fluctuating image of a vid flashed across the screen.
The sound of loud conversation, laughter and loud banging noises poured from the device.
Haley slapped at the cell phone and she looked at Abigail.
“You taped that?” Haley asked.
“Yeah. I was testing out that new App you sent me and I like hit record by mistake. Well, okay you didn’t knock over a desk but you did like rush out of there right before Dale was like coming to you. Hmm…interesting.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t put it on YouTube. Deleting it now.”
Abigail tapped at her phone.
“Thank you,” Haley said.
Abigail slid her phone inside her pocket. She smiled at Haley.
“You’re welcome. And I really think you should give Dale a chance. He’s cute, smart, funny and nice. And he likes those boring books that you just can’t get enough of.
“What boring books?”
“Nothing. Your shelf on Goodreads is like totally excitement and stuff. And you should really like talk to Dale. He likes you. Trust me on this.”
“I dunno, Abbie.”
“Haley, he’s gonna ask you out. You should say yes. Oh, and if I’m not maid of honor at your wedding I’m slashing your tires.”
“Can we talk about something else please?”
“Yeah, Matt Grayson asked me out.”
“Today at lunch. He was reading that new vamp novel on the DL with his Kindle under the table. I sat by him and snatched it.”
“Yeah, I did. I saw the cover and I was like caught you dude! I knew you was into the Fang Fic!”
“Yeah, and after he calmed down and like made sure none of his friends heard we got to talking. Turns out we both hate the snotty vampire villain guy in the books. We talked about how the hunter dudes should like get him. And then we started talking about other stuff and then he asked me out.”
“He’s so cute. What’d you say?”
“I told him yes. We’re supposed to be going to see that new action movie next week.”
“Oh that’s cool.”
“Hey, maybe you and Dale can meet up with us for a double date.”
“Just kidding. Not really.”
“Let’s change the subject.”
The sound of a loud crash suddenly echoed from the hallway.
Abigail and Haley turned away from each other and they looked at the door.
“What was that?” Haley asked with concern.
The sound of loud footsteps filled the hall before Peter appeared in the doorway.
“I’m fine,” Peter announced.
Peter leaped down the small flight of steps and he landed on the floor with a low grunt. He ran across the room swiftly. His small hands were clasped clumsily together.
Peter stopped in front of the couch. He moved closer to Haley.
“Peter, what did you do?” Abigail asked.
“Nothing,” Peter said. “I have something special for Haley.”
“You do?” Haley inquired.
“Uh huh,” Peter responded. “Haley please hold out your hands.”
“Peter,” Abigail said with clenched teeth. “If it’s a spider I will sooooo trample you.”
“It’s not a spider,” Peter said. He moved closer to the couch. “Haley, don’t you trust me?”
“Yes I do,” Haley said with a nod.
“Well I don’t,” Abigail snorted.
“That’s why I didn’t get you anything Crabby Abbie,” Peter said. “Haley, hold out your hands. I think you’ll like my present.”
“Alright,” Haley said.
“Haley don’t do it,” Abigail warned. It might be a night crawler, a nest of earwigs or something else really really gross.”
“Its none of that stuff,” Peter said.
“Its okay,” Haley said. “I trust Peter.”
Haley smiled at Peter while she thrust out her hands.
Peter opened his hands.
Several large glittering stones fell from his hands.
The clear shimmering gems landed in Haley’s hands.
Haley stared at the circular objects with a gasp.
“Those are real diamonds,” Peter said. “And they’re all yours.”
Haley looked up at Peter with a start.
“What?” Haley asked.
Peter smiled at Haley.
“Those aren’t real ice,” Abigail said. “They’re fake. CZ’s.”
Peter looked at Abigail.
“Real diamonds cut glass right?” Peter asked.
“Yeah so?” Abigail inquired folding her arms across her chest with a light tilt of her head and narrowed eyes.
Peter snatched a gem from Haley’s hand. He tossed it in Abigail’s direction.
Abigail caught the flying gem. She looked at the clear rock with a snort.
“That mirror on the wall. Under the crossbow,” Peter said.
Peter turned from the couch slightly and he pointed at a weapon-filled wall across the room.
Abigail glared at Peter before rising to her feet. She stomped across the room and stopped in front of a large mirror that hung on the wall.
“Abigail no!” Haley cried.
Abigail turned away from the mirror and she looked at Haley.
“Don’t do that,” Haley said. “The Larsens will be really upset.”
“I wasn’t really gonna do it,” Abigail said. “I just wanted to see how far this little tyke would take the joke.”
“Its no joke,” Peter said.
Peter moved away from Haley. He walked across the room and stopped near Abigail. He snatched the shiny gem from her grasp.
“Hey!” Abigail cried.
Peter moved to the mirror. He stood on his tiptoes and pressed the stone against the glass. He moved the stone slowly atop the mirror and made a near diagonal-shaped cut in the center of the looking glass.
Peter lowered his form to the floor and he stared at the scratch-covered mirror.
“Your parents are so gonna kill you,” Abigail said.
A loud creaking sound filled the room just before the mirror burst into four distinct segments.
The shimmering portions of reflective glass fell from the wall. The large glass fragments struck the floor and shattered into an infinite number of shimmery shards.
Abigail and Haley cried out with surprise.
Peter turned away from the broken glass. He looked at Abigail with a smirk. “See? They’re real.”
Peter walked away from Abigail. He moved to the couch and stopped in front of Haley.
“And they’re all yours, Haley. So, now can we kiss?” Peter asked.
“Peter,” Haley said gently. “I can’t take these. They belong to your parents.”
Haley rose to her feet. She poured the glittering gems into her left hand and thrust the jewels in Peter’s direction.
“Please put them back,” Haley said.
“Is it cause of your age?” Peter asked.
“What?” Haley inquired.
“Why you won’t kiss me. Its cause I’m a kid right?” Peter asked.
“Yes. And it wouldn’t be right,” Haley replied.
“Oh,” Peter said.
Peter looked at the floor.
“Trust me,” Haley said to Peter. “When you’re my age, you’ll have loads of girls after you.”
“He’s got loads of girls after him now,” Abigail said.
Haley turned from Peter and she looked at Abigail.
“Really?” Haley asked.
“Yeah. I told you this generation moves lightning fast,” Haley said.
Haley turned to Peter.
“See? Girls like you. You’ll meet a nice one,” Haley said. “When you’re a little older.”
Peter looked up at Haley.
“I already met one I like,” Peter said.
“Peter, I’m just too old for you. Now, put these back. I don’t want you to get into any trouble,” Haley said.
“Too late for that,” Abigail stated.
“But what if we were the same age?” Peter asked.
“Not happening,” Abigail interrupted coldly. “Not unless you’ve got a time machine in the basement.”
Peter looked at Abigail with a scowl. “No one asked you anything Crabby Abbie.”
“Peter it’s your bedtime. Go to bed now,” Abigail said.
“No it’s too early and I want to talk to Haley some more,” Peter said.
“Peter take these back and put them back where you got them,” Haley said gently. She moved closer to Peter.
Peter looked up at Haley. “Alright.”
Peter raised his right hand.
Haley grabbed Peter’s right wrist gently. She shook the gems into his hand.
Peter closed his fist atop the jewels. He turned away from Haley and stomped from the room while mumbling incoherently.
“Aw,” Abigail said in a sing song voice. “I think you just broke his little heart.”
“Abbie, that’s not funny. Look, I think I should go,” Haley said.
“No, you promised you’d stay and keep me com-pa-ny!” Abbie whined.
“Abbie I…” Haley began.
“Nooooo!” Abigail wailed rushing across the room. She stopped in front of Haley and grabbed her friend’s shoulders.
“Haley, don’t go. It’s almost Peter’s bedtime and we can watch that one vampire flick that you like,” Abigail said. “Twice…”
“No, it’s best if I just leave. I’ll call you tomorrow,” Haley said quickly.
“Peter is fine. Look, I’ve been babysitting this kid since he was two. So I know the ins and outs of his weirdness. He’s strange but not crazy strange if you know what I mean. So just sit down, get comfortable and take a load off. You know, you might hurt his feelings more if you just up and left. He’ll have all kinds of abandonment issues and stuff.”
“Stop trying to guilt me into staying, Abbie.”
“Is it working?”
“Well, let me turn on all the charm…”
Abigail pulled Haley into a hug with a low wail.
“Please, please stay with me Haley. I’ll be extra special nice to you. I’ll make you ice cream and feed you cake!” Abigail whined.
Haley pushed her friend away from her with a laugh.
“Ow! Get off of me,” Haley giggled.
“So, you’ll stay?” Abigail asked.
“I hope she does,” A low voice said.
Abigail and Haley turned away from each other. They stared in the direction of the voice.
The two young women looked at the doorway of the room.
A tall young man stood in front of the small stone staircase.
The young man had wild black hair. He was dressed in a pair of tight fitting blue pajamas. Large crumbs adorned the front portion of the young man’s clothing.
A pair of small black slippers encased his feet.
Gold designs decorated the top portion of the dark footwear.
The young man looked at Haley. He grinned at her before he waved.
“Hello Haley!” the young man said cheerfully.
Abigail and Haley screamed.
Abigail rushed from Haley. She moved to the wall near the television and snatched one of the swords from the stone partition. She held the weapon out in front of her and moved the blade in quick jabbing motions while rushing towards the man.
Abigail stopped near Haley and she thrust the edge of the weapon in the young man’s direction while she spoke.
“Who in the hell are you? And where’s Peter?” Abigail roared.
“Peter!” Haley shouted. “Peter! Where are you?”
“I’m Peter,” The young man said.
Abigail and Haley looked at the man with shock.
The man raised his right hand and he placed his limb atop his heart with a nod. He stared at Haley and curved his lips into a lopsided grin.
“It’s true Haley. I’ve come for my kiss,” the man said.
Abigail and Haley turned away from the man. The two young women looked at each other.
“I’m calling the cops,” Haley said pulling her cell from her pocket.
“And I’m gonna kick some intruder butt,” Abigail said.
“Don’t you guys believe me?” the young man asked.
“I’m not getting a signal!” Haley cried.
“He’ll be dead by the time the cops get here anyway,” Abigail said with a shrug.
“Dead?” the man asked.
Abigail walked across the room. She stopped in front of a wall, glanced at the assortment of weapons that hung atop the partition before yanking a large axe from the barrier.
“Yup dead,” Abigail said.
“But I just wanna kiss Haley,” the man whined.
Abigail turned from the wall. She held both weapons in her hand and aimed the lethal edges of the blades in the young man’s direction while charging towards him with a banshee like scream.
“Gonna cut me off some balls!” Abigail screeched.
The man stumbled backwards with his hands raised in Abigail’s direction.
“Wait!” the man shouted hoarsely. “I’m Peter Larsen. Really I am. Look! Let me show you just wait! And my Dad will be real mad if you break that axe. Its fifteenth century.”
Abigail stopped running. She looked at the man with a slight tilt of her head.
Haley looked up from her phone. She glanced at the man before she looked at Abigail.
“Your Dad will be mad?” Abigail asked in a choking voice.
“Yeah it belonged to my Mom’s great great great great great great…” the man recited.
Abigail raised the axe and she threw the weapon across the room.
“Abbie no!” Haley shouted.
The axe sailed through the air with a loud swishing sound. The blade flipped in rapid circles while hurtling in the direction of the man’s head.
The man fell to his knees in a clumsy duck with a loud cry.
The axe flew from the interior of the room. It soared through the opened doorway and flew into the hall before slamming into a stone wall across from the entrance with a loud clanging sound and a bright white spark as the blade struck the stone.
“Damn. My aim is off today,” Abigail said.
The man rose to his feet. He turned around and looked at the axe behind him with a gulp.
“So are you going to tell us who you are before I cut your tongue out?” Abigail asked.
The man turned around. He looked at Abigail with wide eyes.
“I already told you! I’m Peter Elliot Larsen the Third!” the man said with a high pitched squeak.
Abigail lowered the sword in her hand. She thrust the blade in the direction of the man’s middle.
“Left or right? Choose now,” Abigail commanded.
“Huh?” the man asked.
“Which ball do you want to keep? Or which one do you want me to lop off first because if you’ve done anything to Peter I swear I’ll…” Abigail said with a hiss.
“I am Peter!” the man shouted. “Don’t hurt me! Look Abbie. Just look!”
The man ripped off his shirt.
He pointed to a long ragged scar that was located on the lower portion of his abdomen.
“See?” the man said. “It’s my scar from having my appendix removed when I was eight.”
“Lots of people have their appendixes removed,” Abigail said slicing the sword in his direction. “I’m still not convinced! Commence with the ball removal! No anesthetic! No sterilization of the wound area!”
“Wait there’s something else!” the man said.
The man turned around. He raised his left arm and bent it awkwardly before lowering his limb and slapping his palm against the pale flesh near the center of his spine.
A tiny patch of scarlet colored flesh was located in the center of his spine. The scarlet marking resembled the shape of a large wolf.
“There’s a birthmark there. It looks like a wolf. It’s right there,” the man said.
Abigail moved closer to the dark haired man. She stopped a few paces away from him. She stared at the center of his spine and saw the bright red mark.
“Its not make-up,” the man said.
The man raised his hand from his spine. He licked his palm before lowering his limb and rubbing at the center of his spine.
“Yucky,” Haley gagged.
“It’s not coming off. It’s my birthmark. You scared me when I was six. You said that I’d be a werewolf,” the man said.
The man lowered his hand from his spine. He turned around and looked at Abbie.
“You said the only way I could stop the turn was if I ate raw beef milkshakes. And you made me one on the night of a full moon. Remember? I drank it and it was pretty good so you wanted some. We both had three. We both got sick but I didn’t rat you out when Dad asked how I got sick,” the man said.
“No way,” Abigail whispered. “You can’t know that!”
The man pointed to a scar on the left side of his chest.
“This,” the young man began. “See? I have this scar across my heart from when I was dancing on that glass table in the dining room and fell in. I was seven. I almost died. The doctor said that the glass piece was three…”
“…inches from your heart!” Abigail finished with a gasp.
“And here’s those chicken pox scars from when I was five that I scraped off that looks like the milky way on my bum…” the man said.
The man turned around and he grabbed at the waist of his trousers.
“Hey! Hey!” Abigail cried.
“Don’t!” Haley shouted.
The man turned around. He released his grasp on his trousers and stared at Abigail.
“You got your heart broke by some idiot guy. You came here to babysit for me the next day. You were crying and I made you a chocolate sprinkle smoothie with tobasco sauce.”
“No way,” Abigail whispered. “You can’t know that. Nobody can know that. Except for Peter,”
“That can’t be. It’s not him,” Haley said.
“It’s Peter,” Abigail said. She lowered the sword in her grasp with a solemn nod. “No one would know that but him.”
Abigail looked at the man. “You…how did you do this?”
Haley stomped across the room and she stopped beside Abigail. She looked at the man warily before grabbing Abigail’s shoulder.
Abigail looked at Haley with a slow blink. “Haley I always knew his family was weird.”
“Hey!” the man said. “We’re magically eccentric.”
“But,” Abigail continued. “I had no idea they could do stuff like this. I mean. What if they decide to like blow people up?”
“The family took the Human Protection oath in the twenties so we can’t do that anymore,” the man said. “But we can war with other Magical Clans. When that happens it’s really awesome. Haley if you want I can take you on a Magic Raid.”
“Abbie,” Haley said ignoring the man. “Please just stay with me okay. Please listen to me. This man isn’t Peter. He just some crazy person. And he can’t do magic. Don’t believe what he’s saying. It can’t be him. It’s just not possible.”
“Haley,” the man said.
Haley turned from Abigail and she looked at the man.
“Anything is possible in this house,” The man said.
The man moved closer to Haley. He stopped in front of her with a grin.
“Can we kiss now? We’re the same age,” He said.
“No! I’m not kissing you!” Haley cried.
“Is it because you think I’m still a kid? Or is it that you don’t believe me?” He asked.
“No, I’m not kissing you because you are a crazy person!” Haley said.
Haley turned from the man and she moved closer to Abigail. “Gimme your phone Abbie I’m calling the cops!”
“But he’s really Peter,” Abigail said.
“Give me your damned phone!” Haley shouted.
The sound of a loud rumbling noise filled the room.
Abigail and Haley looked around them with wide eyes.
“What?” Haley asked.
“What was that?” Abigail asked.
“The security system,” the man said.
Haley and Abigail looked at the man.
“It’s sensitive. It can sense anger and danger and stuff like that. Dad has to calibrate it better. He’s been experimenting with it,” the man said.
Haley turned to Abigail. “Look Abbie. I don’t care what you say. I’m calling the cops. This man is crazy and probably from the asylum around here…and Peter is missing.”
“Peter is right there,” Abigail said pointing at the man.
“Fine,” Haley said taking a step from Abigail. “I’ll find a phone myself.”
“Haley,” the man said.
Haley turned to the man. She looked at him with a menacing glare.
“I see you need more convincing,” The man said. “Be right back.”
The man turned away from Haley and he stomped from the room muttering incoherently.
Haley turned to Abigail. She slid her cell phone inside of her pocket and thrust her hand in her friend’s direction.
“Abbie. Cell. Now,” Haley commanded.
Abigail pulled her cell from her pocket and she thrust the device in her friend’s direction. “Here.”
“Thanks,” Haley said taking the phone. She tapped at the screen. “I can’t get a signal. This is crazy. Is there another phone in the house? The kitchen maybe? We have to do something before he comes back in here. Who knows where he’s hiding.”
Haley looked up from the cell. She glanced warily at the empty doorway of the room before she turned from the entrance and focused her sight on Abigail.
Abigail was staring at Haley with an expression of shock across her features. The sword was clutched lightly in her hand.
“Abbie,” Haley said slowly. “We need to find a phone. A real working phone so we can call the cops. And…we should lock that door before that crazy guy tries to come back in here. And what about Peter? We have to find Peter.”
Abigail raised her free hand. She grabbed Haley’s arm gently.
“Haley,” Abigail said softly. “That man is Peter.”
“He is not,” Haley said pulling her arm from Haley’s grasp with a huff.
“How can you say that, Abbie?”
“Its true. I know it sounds crazy but.”
“Sounds crazy. It is crazy. Abbie, no matter what he says or how much he knows about your life believe me when I tell you that that man is not Peter. He’s just crazy. And he prolly follows you on Twitter and found out about what happened at homecoming last year.”
“I didn’t Tweet that.”
“Well maybe Peter was talking and the crazy guy heard him.”
“Peter wouldn’t tell anyone about that. He promised he wouldn’t. Trust me, Peter wouldn’t tell anyone about that.”
“Look, Abbie. It doesn’t really matter how that crazy guy knows all of that stuff. What matters is finding Peter and getting out of here and letting the cops and the SWAT team deal with that delusional psycho. I don’t know how he got in here but…”
The sound of a loud crash suddenly echoed in the hall.
Abigail and Haley looked at the door.
The sound of a loud dragging noise filled the corridor.
The man appeared in the doorway. He dragged a long oblong-shaped object at his side.
He clambered down the stone steps and raised the object in his hand. He hurled the item with a grim huff.
The dusty thing soared across the room and it landed on the floor in the center of the space with a resonant thump.
The thing was large and covered with dust. The object was wrapped in thick layers of cream colored bandages and it possessed the shape of a man.
The man moved to the dusty thing. He fell to his knees and grabbed at the thing’s head. He ripped the bandages from the object.
The twisted face of a mummy appeared beneath the torn cloth bindings.
The man raked his hands along the shriveled thing’s cheek.
A thick flap of discolored skin fell from the corpse. The stark white bone of a skull lay beneath the marred flesh.
The man released his hold on the mummy. He rose to his feet.
“Let’s see if this convinces you,” The man said.
The man flung his hand at the mummy while murmuring softly.
A faint scream echoed in the room.
The air in the chamber became still and the sound from the television was suddenly mute.
A rattling cough poured from the mummy just before the preserved body sat up with a quick jerking motion.
The thing turned its head with great difficulty and it looked at Abigail and Haley.
The mummy leaped to its feet and several layers of its bandages fell from its form. It thrust out its arms and moved clumsily towards the young women.
Abigail dropped the sword.
Haley dropped the cell.
Haley grabbed Abigail’s arm and she ran across the room.
Abigail ran clumsily at Haley’s side.
The two young women sprinted across the room.
Haley and Abigail stopped in front of a far wall. The two young women pressed their spines against the stone partition while they watched the mummy shuffle clumsily towards them.
“My Mom brought him back from one of her expeditions,” the man said. “He just wants to say hi.”
“Peter stop it!” Abigail screamed.
“Stay away from us!” Haley howled.
The mummy continued its shuffling steps forward. A low moan poured from the bandaged figure’s lips just before it stopped its stride in the center of the room.
The dark haired man danced across the room and he stopped a few feet away from Haley and Abigail. He smiled at Haley and pointed at the mummy.
“Now do you believe me Haley?” the man asked.
“No!” Haley shouted with indignation. “That thing’s not real! It’s just some crazy guy in a mummy costume!”
“Okay,” The dark haired man said calmly.
The dark haired youth turned away from Haley. He stared at the fireplace.
A loud crackling noise suddenly filled the room.
The two stone dragons beneath the hearth shuddered and came to life.
Their stark white bodies were awash with blinding bursts of red, orange and yellow. Their scale-covered bodies increased in size. They released loud shrieking noises before they burst from their perch within the wall.
The two beasts spread their magnificent wings. They released loud cawing noises before they flew around the room.
The twin creatures floated around the room in slow circular motions. Their ruby red eyes were fixed on the inhabitants in the chamber.
Haley and Abigail watched the flying creatures with screams of terror.
One of the stone dragons closed its eyes briefly. It released a gagging choke before it opened its mouth and breathed a torrent of yellow fire from its throat.
The jet of crackling flame spewed from the creature’s mouth and it landed atop the sofa with a deafening crack.
The settee exploded in a burst of cracking flame.
Haley and Abigail rushed away from the couch. They cowered near the curtained windows.
The dragon’s flying companion swooped towards the curtains. It closed its eyes briefly and shot a streaming jet of yellow flame in the shivering girls’ direction.
Abigail and Haley rushed away from the drapes and they moved to the television.
The curtains burst into flame. The fire spread quickly.
The mummy turned around and it staggered towards Abigail and Haley with quick clumsy motions.
The two dragons circled overhead. Both beasts spit out twin jets of flame in the walking corpse’s direction.
The mummy’s form was encased in twisting yellow flame for a few moments just before its body exploded in an infinite burst of fiery bits.
The small particles of flame-covered mummy splashed across the room and soon the entire chamber was engulfed in flame.
Abigail and Haley cowered against the wall in the far corner of the room. They held each other tightly. They fell to their knees and gasped for breath.
The fire in front of the two young women suddenly parted and the dark haired youth appeared in front of them.
“Do you believe me now Haley?” He asked.
“Yes I believe you!” Haley shouted. “Now, please stop it! Stop all of it!”
“Can we kiss first?” He asked.
“No, I’m not kissing you!” Haley screamed.
Abigail grabbed Haley’s shoulders. She turned her friend towards her and shook the young girl’s shoulders.
“Haley, just kiss the boy before he burns the whole house down!” Abigail cried.
“No, it wouldn’t be right! If he is who he says he is, he’s still just a kid!” Haley shouted. “Lemme go!”
Haley pushed Abigail away from her and she leaped to her feet.
“She’s right you know,” The dark haired man stated.
Haley and Abigail turned to the man.
The dark haired man looked at Haley with a heavy sigh before he raised his left hand and snapped his fingers.
The walls of dancing flame diminished and so did the young man’s size.
The dark haired man’s features melted gracefully until a ten year old boy stood in front of Haley and Abigail.
“Peter?” Haley asked with wonder.
“Yes,” Peter said with a nod.
Haley felt a strange tickling sensation across her body.
“What’s happening to me?” Haley cried and she grabbed her throat with a choke after hearing her high pitched voice.
The strange tickling sensation stopped suddenly.
Peter jumped up with a squeal of glee. “It worked! Awesome!”
“What worked?” Haley asked. “Peter what are you talking about?”
Abigail turned from Peter. She looked at Haley. Her eyes became wide and she grabbed at her chest with a loud gasp.
Haley blinked a few times. She turned away from Peter and she stared at Abigail. “Abbie, what’s going on?”
“I can’t believe it,” Abigail whispered with a shake of her head. She raised her hands and clapped her palms against her mouth with a shuddering giggle. “This is freaking unbelievable!”
“What’s unbelievable?” Haley cried. “Tell me what’s wrong? And why do I sound like a chipmunk?”
Abigail shook her head quickly and she released a choking giggle.
“Abbie, tell me what’s wrong!” Haley cried.
Haley took a small step forward and she cried out when she tripped over her feet. She lost her balance and fell onto the floor. She landed atop her knees with a low cry. She sat up abruptly.
Haley looked at her body with shock.
Her body was thin and small.
Haley raised her hands and she stared at the small limbs with a snuffling squeak.
After a few moments, Haley moved her hands to her face and she patted her cheeks. She lowered her limbs and tapped at her neck. She lowered her palms to her chest. She grabbed at the twin flat portions of flesh where her bosom had once been.
“No way!” Haley screeched.
Haley swallowed with great difficulty. She dropped her hands from her chest and she looked at Abigail.
Abigail gazed at the ten year old girl who kneeled beside her with a surprised choke. “No,” Haley said in a small chirping voice.
Peter moved across the room. He stopped in front of Haley and kneeled on the floor. He looked at her with a smile.
Haley turned from Abigail and she looked at Peter.
“Did you do this?” Haley asked.
“Duh! The kid is magical!” Abigail exclaimed.
“Yes I did,” Peter said.
“Why?” Abigail asked.
“To make you believe in magic again,” Peter responded.
“You could have just pulled a rabbit out of your nose or something. Or like cough up some gold coins or diamonds,” Abigail said.
“That would be too easy,” Peter said.
“Change me back,” Haley said to Peter.
“Know what Haley?” Peter asked.
“What?” Haley asked.
“We’re the same age now.”
Peter grabbed Haley’s wrists and he stood to his feet. He pulled the young girl so that she stood erect. He wrapped his arms around her before closing his eyes and pursing his lips.
Haley raised her left hand and she smacked her palm against the little boy’s mouth.
“Ow!” Peter exclaimed removing his arms from Haley’s middle.
Haley clenched her fist and she shook it in Peter’s direction.
“That’s for being naughty!” Haley shouted. “And trying to kiss me when I told you no. My answer is still no you know?”
“Haley just kiss the boy before he has a tantrum and raises that terra cotta army in the basement!” Abigail shouted.
Haley turned from Peter and she looked at Abigail. “You said what?”
“Haley!” Peter shouted.
Haley turned around quickly. She caught sight of Peter’s face just inches from hers before a pair of lips made contact with her left cheek.
Haley took a small step forward and she pinched Peter’s ear. “I told you no!”
“Ow!” Peter said staggering away from Haley. He held his ear while he looked at Haley with a dreamy smile. “I was aiming for your lips but your cheek is nice too.”
“Ha ha change me back!” Haley bellowed.
“Alright,” Peter said. “And I’ll fix the room too.”
Peter raised his hands.
The large room was filled with smoke.
The white vapor cleared and everything was as it was before.
The fire had vanished. The stone dragons rested beneath the hearth. And the mummy was gone.
“Good all of that stuff is gone,” Haley said in a high pitched voice. “Hey!”
Haley looked down at her body. Her form was still small and thin.
“What?” Haley demanded. She looked at Peter. “Change me back!”
“Okay but it might take a second,” Peter said. “I did a lot of magic today. Did you like it? The magic cause I’ve been practicing.”
“No I didn’t like any of it,” Haley said.
“Those birds in the fireplace trick was kinda cool but the mummy thing was scary,” Abigail said.
Haley turned to Abigail with a gasp.
“Abbie stop encouraging him!” Haley shouted.
Abigail shrugged and said, “Sorries but it was cool. The birds not the fire or the mummy.”
“After my nap I can do some more magic,” Peter said.
“Can you make those suits of armor dance?” Abigail asked.
“Sure just pick the music,” Peter said.
“Cool my IPod is in my purse,” Abigail said.
“Abbie!” Haley shouted.
Abigail looked at Haley with a startled expression across her features.
“What?” Abigail asked.
“Not helping,” Haley said coldly.
“Sorry but it’s not every day that you get to see like four hundred year old steel dance,” Abigail said.
Haley turned to Peter.
“Peter,” Haley said. “Change me back please.”
“Okay,” Peter said. He raised his hands and moved them in Haley’s direction.
“Is that it?” Haley asked.
“Yeah it’ll just take a minute,” Peter replied.
“Okay,” Haley said tentatively.
“I can’t believe you’re a kid again!” Abigail hooted.
Abigail rose to her feet. She moved to Haley and pinched her friend’s cheeks.
“Haley, you’re such a pretty little girl. You should have went into modeling,” Abigail said teasingly.
“Ow stop it!” Haley cried slapping Abigail’s hands from her face. “I’m not pretty and I don’t want to be a kid anymore. I want to be a teenager!”
“Abbie,” Peter asked. “Can you take our picture?”
Peter reached into his pocket and he pulled out a silver digital camera. He moved across the room and stopped in front of Abigail. He thrust the machine in her direction.
“Sure!” Abigail exclaimed taking the camera.
“I can’t believe you Abbie,” Haley said. “You’re not going to take the picture are you?”
“Yeah,” Abigail replied. “We need to remember this.”
Abigail raised the camera in her hand.
Peter moved closer to Haley. He pulled her into a hug.
“Hey!” Haley cried pushing Peter away from her.
Peter looked at Haley with an expression of sadness across his features.
Haley stared at Peter for a few moments before she released an irritated huff and pulled the young boy into a hug.
“Alright you get your hug but a quick one,” Haley said with irritation.
Peter hugged Haley with a laugh.
Abigail raised the camera in her grasp.
“Say cheese!” Abigail said cheerfully.
“Cheese!” Peter said.
“Just take the damned picture!” Haley cried.
Abigail pressed a button atop the camera.
A flood of white light poured from the object.
Abigail looked at the rear of the portion of the digital camera with a smile.
“You two look so cute,” Abigail said.
“Let me see!” Peter exclaimed.
Peter removed his arms from Haley. He rushed to Abigail. He took the camera from her grasp. He stared at the screen on the rear portion of the device and gazed at the photographic image that hovered atop the tiny monitor.
“Come and look Haley,” Peter said.
Haley folded her arms across her chest and she moved to Peter. She stood beside the little boy and stared at the picture.
“It looks fine,” Haley said. “Now how long will it take for me change again?”
“It’s done already,” Peter said.
“Huh?” Haley asked.
“Just a few more seconds,” Peter said.
Haley opened her mouth to speak and she stopped with a choke.
The strange tickling sensation passed over Haley’s body. She gasped when she felt her rapidly expanding bosom press against her folded arms.
She lowered her limbs from her chest. She looked down at her body.
Haley’s form was tall, lean and shapely once more.
“Oh I’m so glad,” Haley said with a sigh.
“Well,” Peter said cheerfully. “Whenever you want to be a kid again. Let me know,” Peter said.
Peter turned away from Haley and Abigail. He slid the camera inside of his pocket with a cheerful whistle. He walked in the direction of the door and stopped in the center of the room. He took a few running steps forward before his form rose from the floor.
The young boy laughed gaily while he flew from the interior of the room with near blinding speed.
Peter soared into the hallway and the sound of a deafening explosion echoed in the house.
The entire house shook violently for a few moments before it was still.
Silence filled the space just before a flood of laughter poured from the nearby TV.
Haley and Abigail jumped at the sudden noise and they looked at the TV.
“I can’t believe what just happened,” Haley whispered.
“Yeah it was crazy,” Abigail said. “And crazy is what people would call us if we like told them half of what happened here.”
“So we keep it a secret right?”
“So you wanna stay and watch Cribs? The Larsens will be in soon. And Peter well, he got his kiss and a hug the little player. So he won’t be bothering us anymore.”
“I think I should just go home.”
“Come on and stay, Haley. We can watch a movie. A chick flick totally cause after what just happened I can’t like not even think of watching some horror movie. Or magic movie. Or any movie that doesn’t involve like cute guys and a girl who’s like not annoying who get together at the end. Without someone dying. Yeah.”
“So are you staying?” Abigail asked.
“I guess so,” Haley said.
“Great you pick the movie,” Abigail said.
“Okay.” Haley said.